Who here knows what TPMS is?


Are you sure?


Now, the acronym isn’t very complicated (tire pressure monitoring system), and that might give you a basic idea of what the purpose is.
But there is so much more.

Just like tires, and wheels, here at Wheel Pro’s we are expected to have an in depth understanding of a safety system in your vehicle that you might not even know you have.


Let’s start with some history.
TPMS began in the 1980s. The very first car fitted with it was the 1986 Porsche 959. Of course, things have changed and evolved into the systems we use today, and in the United States the 1991 Corvette was the start of the modern TPMS movement.
As of September 1st 2007, all vehicles sold in the United States come with TPMS. Today, any vehicle sold in the US, the European Union, and South Korea are required to come with TPMS.


Now for some more technical information.
There are two different kinds of TPMS these days. Direct, and Indirect.

Direct TPMS refers to a system that uses a pressure sensor that is installed in each tire. This monitors the exact tire pressure, and transmits the information via a radio frequency to your car. This information can be displayed on your dash as exact pressures, or just show you the warning light when your tires are under-inflated.
These monitors do have batteries, and eventually the batteries will die. The average life-span is 7-10 years, and then they will need to be replaced.

Indirect TPMS is some extra software integrated into existing ABS/ESC units. It runs off information gathered by these systems and analyses the tire size based on the speed the wheel is moving. The theory is that an under-inflated tire will be slightly smaller.
This is an easy system to work with. There are no extra parts for technicians to work with or replace, and the system can be reset easily by the driver, followed by 20-60 minutes of driving while the car works out what is going on.

Now, you’re probably asking “why do I need TPMS, I know how to check my tire pressure!”
And I’m sure you do. It’s really, really easy.
But how often do you actually do it? Do you check them every morning? Every afternoon? While you’re driving?
Of course not! That’s impossible.
But the TPMS does it for you.

Statically, TPMS has many benefits.
Braking distance and lateral stability are directly related to proper inflation pressures. Fuel economy and tire wear can be negatively affected by both under and over-inflation. Under-inflated tires are harder to roll, and severe under-inflation (or over-inflation) can lead to complete tire failure.
With that information, we can say that lost fuel economy leads to lost money, more emissions, and it means you have to work harder to keep your car on the road.

Under-inflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in 40,000 accidents, 33,000 injuries and over 650 deaths per year. Further, tires properly inflated add greater stability, handling and braking efficiencies and provide greater safety for the driver, the vehicle, the loads and others on the road.


To wrap is all up, TPMS is a safety system that is mandatory in all modern vehicles manufactured or sold in the United States. They are easily installed in a second set of wheels and tires, and last for up to ten years.
At this time, you can choose not to install them when you get a new set of wheels and tires. However, if you are in any sort of accident resulting in damage or injury, the lack of a main safety system in your vehicle may cause problems with insurance claims or whatever legal business follows.
At Wheel Pro’s, we try to keep our customers informed with everything that goes on and in their vehicles. We also don’t like being sued.
If you decide you don’t want TPMS, it’s at your own risk. But, your passengers didn’t decide that. The person you could hit didn’t decide that.
In Alberta it’s a bit of a legal grey area. We would prefer if your vehicle left in better shape than when it came in, and we make every effort to make sure it does.

Here are some references and further reading for other geeks who might want more information (or to make sure I’m not making stuff up).

Wikipedia – TPMS

Schrader TPMS Made Right – The Importance of TPMS

TPMS Made Simple

I want to make sure that everyone has a thorough understanding of the things keeping their car on the road. If you have any other questions or concerns, you can post them in the comments on our Facebook page.